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Diagnostic radiography: what are the risks?


X-rays at the doses used in diagnostic radiography are associated with two main hazards: an increased risk of neoplasia in the individual exposed, and an increased risk of hereditary disease in his or her progeny. The risk of carcinogenesis can be balanced against the benefit to the patient exposed, but the risk to progeny cannot be balanced in this way as they receive no direct benefit other than the possible continued health of the parent. The decision to x-ray must be based on adequate knowledge of such harmful effects of radiation and on the realistic assessment of the benefits.

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